The HTC Flyer goes on sale at Best Buy this weekend for $499.99, and the folks at HTC were kind enough to loan me a demo unit to test out in advance of the US launch. The Flyer is one of the most intriguing Android tablets to hit the market in recent months for a couple of reasons:
- While most big name tablets have 10 inch screens, the Flyer has a smaller 7 inch display.
- Most of tablets from major PC makers only accept fingertip input, but if you pick up an optional digital pen, you can write or draw on the screen — and HTC has developed custom software to make Android more pen-friendly.
- The tablet runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread instead of the tablet-optimized Android 3.x, but HTC has updated its Sense software to play well with the larger-than-phone-sized display.
- The Flyer is also the first tablet with a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
I’ve only had the tablet on my desk for a few minutes, but there’s already a lot I like about it. It’s smaller and lighter than the Motorola XOOM, weighing just about 0.9 pounds, which makes it feel a lot more portable. It also just feels better in my hand, which makes me think that the 7 inch form factor might be better for reading eBooks, surfing the web, or doing just about anything short of playing games or watching movies where a bigger screen is generally better.
I almost feel like it’s unfair to even put the Flyer and other 7 inch tablets in the same category as 10 inch devices such as the Motorola XOOM. Side by side they almost look as different as a smartphone and a laptop.
As you can see in the unboxing video below, there are still some things I need to get the hang of before I can really judge the Flyer. I’m not accustomed to the HTC Sense software yet, for instance. And while HTC sent me a digital pen to try out, I’m going to have to spend a few moments figuring out which apps can actually use the pen. I can already say that it makes a rather loud clicking noise when you write or draw on the screen, and if you’re not careful, you can bring up the on-screen keyboard if you place your palm on the display before touching the pen to the glass.
Overall the HTC Flyer looks promising — but the true test will be whether I find myself actually choosing to use the tablet over the next few weeks or if it stays on my desk while I carry my Google Nexus One smartphone around in my pocket. So far I have yet to find a tablet that offers enough features I can’t get from my phone to make me want to carry it around in addition to my phone.
Looking forward to more info. This is the first tablet I’ve seen that has piqued my interest. I like the ability to write notes, although I don’t know if I’ll use it.
Does it have GPS? Seems like I read in the specs it did….
Yup, it has gps.
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